The dust is far from settled, but I’ve spend a good few hours in DCUO since it launched mid-afternoon on the 11th. I’ve struck out on the Public Enemies server, a villain as planned with Ice and Acrobatics but Staff instead of Brawling for my weapon of choice. Not a lot seems to have changed between the last days of beta and launch, though I do think that the difficulty of the earlier missions, mobs, and alerts may have been toned down a little. That or I’m just getting used to the changes from beta. I’d be interested in knowing how some other beta vets feel, and how the new folks might be taking to the PvE content. Those questions aside, let’s do a quick recount of my ups and downs for the first few days of DCUO Live.
I think it was a little concerning that the servers names weren’t announced until the game went live, but it seems to be working out alright so far. I haven’t read any reports of people being too almightily ticked that they didn’t have fair warning; because once the game went live they just coordinated through forums and Vent before hopping in. Still, I think we all would have liked some notice, but that’s neither here nor there now. The key thing is that every server seems very lively with activity and they’ve even had to recently open two additional PvP servers for the PC crowd. I know that the folks who bought in could just as easily not subscribe when the thirty days are up, but it’s always a good sign when a game needs to open new servers, and frankly I wasn’t sure how the general populace outside of our little MMORPG.com sector was going to take to the game. More servers, at least for now, bode well.
The launch has also been relatively smooth, queues have been short if any, and though all servers seem to be on “High” whatever that really means is anyone’s guess. I’m just glad to see the streets of Gotham and Metropolis filled with heroes and villains. The only downtime we’ve experienced has been this morning for a small patch to address some instancing issues and some bugs on the PS3 side. The increase in population is something I hope sticks around for a while, because the queues for everything have been incredibly active.
Legends PvP is popping consistently, and I’ve already started collecting my Legends tokens and Influence (PvP currency) for the eventual items and Legends character unlocks. But the thing I’m more pleased with is that the Arenas seem to be popping more often too. Arenas are DCUO’s version of Battlegrounds (or whatever other thing you want to call them). In Beta, especially toward the end, the queue would always just hang there, and I rarely ever had it pop. Now? At least in my current level bracket (I’m only level 12), there seems to be a new one started every two or three minutes. Australia is an eight versus eight experience that has you fighting for control of specific strategic points. But instead of just standing there and defending a spot, you can enable the use of friendly turrets to help defend, or use an EMP from atop one of the buildings to kick people out from the control point area.
PvP is definitely one area that feels fantastic for DCUO. I’m playing the PvP server myself, and while I’ve yet to join a League (though I am looking, wink-wink) I’ve had a great time just questing and participating in the random battles that happen when hero and villain quest-lines intersect. It’s not uncommon on a PvP server to find yourself out-numbered or out-leveled and still hold your own and even win. The timing for attacks and skill-usage, on top of blocks and counters makes for some very dynamic encounters. And for the most part on Public Enemies, while it’s definitely kill on sight, it seems that players will respect if you’re mid-fight with NPCs for a quest before jumping in and attacking. That’s been the case so far, and I hope it doesn’t change.
So the short of it is, big surprise, I’m having a lot of fun. I completed Area 51 for the first time last night before my wife got home and that’s another case where the bosses seem to have been toned down a bit. I was also able to use my role of Tank effectively via the Storms tree. I could hold agro, we had a great healer, and the DPS were mostly free to wail on the big baddy. The true test, for me, isn’t whether DCUO is fun. As I’ve stated numerous times, the game hits the areas I need it to. It won’t for everyone, but it works for me. What happens in the next few months will determine whether DCUO becomes a game I can stick with for a long time, or just another game I visit every so often to check up on. I’m anxious to see the new content, to hear what SOE has on deck, but I’m even more anxious to see things like the social options and the UI polished up even more. I’m curious as to what will be filling the “Marketplace.” Even though we’re told it will be for fluff, one can’t be too sure until the stuff actually starts showing up.
In short, so far so good. It’s great to see the game liked by so many, just as it’s expected to see it abhorred by others. DCUO is definitely a niche game, possibly more so than its other superhero sisters. What remains to be seen is how well they can carve out that niche. The rest of Q1 2011 should be very interesting, and hopefully not disappointing. Just please, don’t nerf my Staff. I do love it so.